Like it or not, the 2-in-1 design that pairs a laptop with a detachable touchscreen that can double as a tablet seems here to stay. Acer showed several new models at the IFA tradeshow in Germany on Wednesday, and HP unveiled three of its own on Thursday, along with two new Chromebooks.
Envy is HP's upscale consumer brand, so it's fitting that its new Envy x2 will be powered by Intel's brand-new Core M processor. Three other things about the Envy x2 jump out at you: Where most tablets have tiny speaker grills, the ones on the Envy x2 are nearly as tall as the bezel around its LCD panel. I can't judge sound quality from a picture, but that design looks promising (and HP has made better efforts in the audio arena than many PC manufacturers have).
The second innovation is the kickstand that's built into the back of the tablet. Most tablets depend on a second device to prop them up on a table or desktop--at which point you might as well buy a clamshell laptop. From the looks of it, the kickstand can tilt the display at nearly any angle.
The final eye-catching detail is the fabric-covered keyboard cover. It connects to the tablet via Bluetooth, which gives you lots of flexibility when it comes to positioning the two pieces while you work. But I'm not nearly as enthused with the fabric. It will never get scratched, like a metal finish can; but no matter how durable it might be, I've never seen a fabric that didn't wear and fray over time. Metal finishes are a lot easier to keep clean, too.
The Envy x2 will be available in two screen sizes: A 13.6-inch model that will be available October 29 for a starting price of $950, and a 15.6-inch model that will be available November 5 at a starting price of $1050.
HP Pavilion x2
HP uses the Pavilion brand to market its more mainstream consumer PCs. The Pavilion x2 is powered by a more pedestrian Intel Atom processor driving a 10.1-inch touchscreen. HP says the tablet with its keyboard cover measures just 0.69 inches thick and weighs less than two pounds (1.9, to be exact).
The tablet half of the equation is outfitted with one full-sized USB port, a mini HDMI port, and a microSD card reader. HP says the Pavilion x2 will be available October 29 at a starting price of $330.